Shooting Warsons – Metal Delight

I recently had the chance to shoot a concert by one of Hamburg’s underground metal bands, called Warsons. I got the opportunity because the bass player is also a colleague of mine. (You should listen to them on Spotify here)

I used to play in bands for around 15 years, I was socialized on metal by my brother, who, in the 1970s listened to Scorpions a lot – and I liked it. „You see ze microphones in the air, you see zem? We’re doing a live recording tonight!“ – Klaus Meine still rings in my ears, complete with his German accent.

Later on I listened to AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Pantera, Megadeath, Slayer – you get the picture, go to Spotify and get a whiff of that. My bands ranged from metal to surf-metal to funk-metal (sort of), but as I’m a workaholic who can’t get up from the sofa once work is over, I no longer felt I had the time or energy for bands. That’s a real shame, making music was my first creative love.

Now the drug of my choice is photography and so everything came sort of full-circle, when Björn said that it was ok for me to shoot the concert at the Headcrash club. I prepared by watching tons of videos on how to shoot concerts, what lenses to bring, how to set up the camera, how to behave(!) and so on. I’m very thorough. I actually bought a lens for the occasion, so that I had three prime lenses that open up to f1.8: 35mm, 50mm, 90mm (all equiv., I shoot on a 2x crop). I knew that I’d have to crank up the ISO, which is the only problem that my OMD-EM1 II has. Micro-four thirds cameras let in less light in total and have a very pixel-cramped sensor, so that ISO 1600 is my regular max and I go up to 3200 if I absolutely have to, but that’s about it. Any higher than that and I feel that my images fall apart in terms of grain. The only saving grace is that the grain is almost film-like and does not look too digital.

Anyway, when I arrived at the location I quickly found out that my lenses were really suited, especially the new 35mm one. The club isn’t huge, so 35mm really helped me capture full-body portraits from just in front of the space with enough space to think about composition. But once the concert started, the lights actually went down! So my plan of using 1/100th at ISO 1600 went bust and I had to settle with 1/20th to 1/80th at ISO 6400(!!). Thankfully autofocus tracking still worked under these conditions, but I was deeply worried about image quality once I imported them into Lightroom.

But while shooting I did not have the time to think about all of that too much. I had learned that running around without a plan would lead to disaster, so I had the plan to stick to one lens per song and divide the stage into four positions (left, right, centre, centre-back) that way I had something like one minute per position to find the shot and shoot. Then I would step up to the next lens, repeat until I had gone from 35mm up to 90mm and back down. After that, the set was over.

By the way: the concert was nothing short of amazing. The band rocked hard and loud and there was a generous amount of headbanging and grunting and growling.

In the end, I had 20 good shots and I’m going to show a selection all in Black and White, which has actually more to do with colour-grain that with anything else, but I think that the images have a very classic, 80s feel to them, which is just what Warsons is all about.

Enjoy!!

A healthy response

That was quite a junk-food massacre last week and the rosemary did not save it a bit. Still it made me order a burger with fries, so go figure.

But still, Sascha and I had a short conversation about our food habits over deluxe Lebanese food in gentrified Hamburg-Ottensen. Over lamb-chops and turkey filled with fig-paste we arrived at the conclusion that even though we both like to cook we lead lives filled with convenience food and … probably guilt.

So this weekend I unearthed an old idea of mine (and millions of others), i.e. to pre-cook some healthy stuff for a couple of days over the weekend. After going to the supermarket where I decided on pasta for the weekend and pumpkin-carrot-ginger-soup for the week, I put everything on my kitchen table. Looking at it I thought it was the perfect response to Currywurst Pommes Mayo and I arranged it in the style of a classic still-image. So everything you see there is already digested or in the process of it (actually the last pot with soup is on the stove while I write.

I put an old black piece of cloth on a rack for the background and arranged the rest of the shopping with leading lines in mind, the „payoff“ for the lines being the pumpkin of course. My kitchen has a north-facing window, so there was a lot of soft light coming in from camera-right and almost no bounce from camera left. I shot this with my 35mm 1.8 and my 50mm 1.8 lens handheld even though it was getting a bit dark. (Over)processing was done in photoshop, just to darken the shadows and some 3D-Luts for filter effects.

btw:

1kg of carrots, 1 small pumpkin, one red pepper, one chili, one green onion, 500g of small potatoes, 4-6 cups of vegetable stock, one handful of ginger, salt, pepper, curry to taste. Fry the onions and the vegetables in olive oil until glazed, fill up with stock and potatoes. Cook for 45′ or until all the vegetables are very soft. Purée until the desired texture is reached. Season to taste. If you like add sour cream.

Enjoy!


Challenge accepted – Food Photography

I love cooking, so I was pretty happy about Torsten’s suggestion to challenge each other in Food-Photography. Unfortunately there is almost no time for cooking in my life, because working und studying troubles me a lot. So I decided to shoot pictures of that kind of food I nearly eat every day and arrange it in a nice way.

I live in colonge, but I grew up in an area called „Ruhrpott“. This area is famous for its coal-mining during the last century. It´s full of people you would call simple workers, but I would say it´s a place where you can find people with a unique mentality, sometimes a bit rough, but always with a heart for what they are doing.

However… This place is also famous for a fast-food-delicacy called „Currywurst / Pommes“, which means a sausage swimming in a curry sauce with french fries. And you better eat it with mayonnaise on top.

So that should be my subject to shoot. Without any experience in Food-Photography and without any lighting-equipment at home I tried to get the best results. So I grabbed my coffetable, positioned it next to a window and arranged the food. I noticed pretty fast how difficult this challenge is and I struggled with my subject to get it into a good position and place some fresh and healthy looking stuff around it (What’s the lemon doing there? I don´t know). The longer I shot that thing I took more and more of that stuff out of my scene till there were no decorations left. You can see the evolution of the shot in the images I posted here. I think for the beginning I did a good job, but I do not want to dive deeper into this genre.

After my shoot I ate my subject. The food was already cold, but guess what… still delicious! Mhhh….

There’s something about Madeira

There was a lot for me to unpack when I read and saw Sascha’s post last week. I was wondering how he could not like Madeira as much as I had and naturally assumed that he had done something wrong. What could that be? Having been ill might have been part of that and would naturally bias someone against an experience. Then again, I lost twothousand euros worth of camera equipment there (into a ravine – I won’t go into the hows and whys of that here) and though that sent me down a phase of depression for a couple of days, I liked the island just as much.

Another aspect was how different our experiences were. My friend and I were there for only a week and we did a lot of roadtripping along the meandering cliff-roads, went on whale-watching trips and Saskia went canyoning while I explored Funchal. All in all I guess we spent very different days there and that – for me – gives an idea of how varied the possible experiences are on Madeira. I thoroughly enjoyed the clouds and the weather, the sun and the driving-around. I do agree that Funchal will not make it into my top 50 of cities, probably not even the top 100, I just don’t think about it that much, apart from the cable-car up the mountain. But as we saw such different things and because I lost a whole day of nature images because of gravity and a healthy dose of clumsiness, my selection looks decidedly different and are mainly shot on a 50mm prime lens, the only one I had left and not the worst, I might say.

My main goal was to shoot nature, especially whales, and I did not lose my telephoto lens, but that is a project I will pursue more in the future. So here are some shots from Funchal and our main roadtrip and I think that they are quite different from Sascha’s, simply for the reason that we did not hike as much and thus got very different imagery. I made them black and white, cause I felt like it and because I wanted to renew my take on Madeira as the images have sat here for three quarters of a year.

I hope you enjoy them!

Oh, and before I forget. I know we are both busy at the moment, but how about a fine art/abstract image of food?

Sick and uninspired… in Madeira

When I thought about where to go for holiday this year, Madeira was not my favorite destination, but there was no time to organize a road trip. I remembered so many people and friends (including Torsten) who told me that Madeira is a wonderful place to be. Well… what should I say? I am not that impressed.


Don’t get me wrong, but somehow this holidays did not work out for me. Unfortunately I was getting ill after we arrived on the island, laying in bed for 2 days, too weak to do anything but resting. After I felt better my wife got the same symptoms, so she was resting for the next 2 days. The first week we nearly did not see anything of the island. After we both recovered we started to explore Madeira by car and the second week we felt good enough try some hiking-trails. But after that 2 weeks I was glad to get back home.

What went wrong? Maybe it was just the wrong time of the year, but the only thing that really satisfied me was hiking. It is pretty nice to walk through nature, but if there is nothing else, I start to get bored.
And that’s it. What I missed was some kind of authentic atmosphere in the towns and cities, but everything looks like made for the tourists. Even the Capital Funchal was not very exciting. I was wondering where do all the locals go to, but I did not find out.

I think that’s why I am not very happy with the pictures I have taken there, because all I found were the touristic hotspots where everyone is going to. So here are some examples and I am pretty sure that Torsten got the same kind of picture when he was there last year. Proof me wrong, Torsten. Time to compare!

#2018bestnine

Phew, 2018 is over and it was a rather likeable year, so no hard feelings.

Over at Instagram #2018bestnine is a real thing and everyone who’s anyone and everyone else, including me, downloaded some free app to automate the process of finding out, which nine pictures did best that year. Note to the uninitiated: I bought an app for a Euro and it only filters out pictures from 2018, so next year, I’ll have to heavily invest again.

The results surprised me a lot. Of course, I do also like these images, but they’re not really my favourite ones, or at least not the ones that represent where I thought I’d go with photography. Let’s break it down, shall we?

First of all: no portraits. No bloody portraits. I really like portraits and I also like the ones I made and I feel that it is much more of an artform to make a picture of someone that represents him favourably than it is to make pictures of the sun going down. But my portraits just don’t fly off the shelves in comparison to my other pictures. I’ll think about the implications of that later, maybe in a blog post sometime.

Second of all: no animals. After starting photography as part of documenting my travels to Africa, the next thing that came natural to me were zoo animals. I try to portray (there’s that concept again) them out of context. That is, I try to give them back their freedom by unshackling the frame of most elements that would hint at them being caged. And I really feel, that my animal portraits are quite touching. As a side-note: zoo-photography is a tricky thing from an ethical standpoint that I wrote about extensively elsewhere.

Third of all: most pictures were taken in Hamburg, even though they are not necessarily better than the ones taken on Mallorca or Madeira, in Bochum or Cologne. This is interesting, because I lovingly tag my images on IG in order to reach a wider audience, but either it doesn’t work or my Hamburg-based main audience is just not interested in anything outside of itself – a filter bubble of sorts.

Make no mistake – I really like the images and have included some of them in my yearly calendars, but I was really surprised that my own perception of my photography and the outside-world perception – while overlapping – are not the same.

Next time I’ll show some of my picks for 2018, but here they are in full resolution glory, my most-liked nine pics over at instagram.

Enjoy!

Something I nearly repressed

In photography I´m always looking forward, trying to push myself to get better results. The consequence is that older pictures get kicked out of my portfolio. I keep them hidden on one of my hard-drives, but hardly looked at them again.

Torsten asked for my first photos that leave its mark in my photography, so here is the story and the pictures:

I bought my first camera in 2009. It was a Nikon D80 with an aweful kit-lens with a range of 18-55mm. There is really not much you can do with it, but as a beginner I started experimenting with aperture and shutterspeed. At that time I was a Photoshop nerd, so I post-processed most of these images to death. High saturated, oversharpened and somtimes with the use of grunge-textures. Nowadays I´m not shure what I tried to express. Nothing special I think, just developing my skills.

In 2009 I traveled to Croatia and from there I did daytrips to Slovenia, Trieste and Venice. That was a wonderful opportunity to proof that camera. Here are some pictures of Venice I worked on.

rewind to the past

This post is about the first time I took photos for the sake of photography, that is to say the first time I thought of pictures as more than snapshots. I realized I wanted to take pictures of places and people two years before, when I first went to Africa, but I did not have a camera back then and only bought it some months before I was set to return to Tanzania. As I went on a short holiday in Wiltshire for summer college at Marlborough, I brought my brand new Olympus Pen EPL 2 with its 14-42 (equiv. 28-84mm on full-frame). 

Wiltshire is a wonderful county that showcases the typical landscape of Great Britain, rather rural, small towns with their parish churches and patches of farmland, whimsically cut up by hedges. Inside all of that there are spectacular and unique remnants of the past scattered all around. Apart from the old towns, you can find the Avebury Henge and Stonehenge, both being UNESCO World Heritage sites. Moreover, there is a functional Roman Bath in the aptly called town of Bath. 2012 saw a stunning summer with golden light every day and that holiday still is one of my favourites.

In terms of photography, I took my first pictures and some of the first that I really liked. It’s hard to be sure, though. One’s own pictures are always infused with the emotions you experienced back then, so that it’s hard to be objective. An acquaintance of mine asked me recently if starting out with photography was hard, meaning that in the beginning almost no one produces one’s best work. I think that I was lucky that my holiday there made it easy to take nice shots, but you be the judge.

Enjoy!

p.s. hey Sascha, why not share some of your favourites from the past that made you follow through with photography?

Absence of life

Landscape-Photography is something I really appreciate, especially when nature shows its raw character. Landscapes can look very unique.

What affects me most are pictures that seem to threaten you, because of the unreal landscapes that look like from another planet. You won´t believe that life is possible there. That always fascinates me and somtimes I would like to put a human being into the picture to get a surrealistic component into it. But when you are standing in the middle of nowhere it´s hard to find someone who would do that for you.

These pictures I have taken a few years ago in Namibia, Vietnam and Jordan.

architecture is boring part II

I so wholeheartedly agree with Sascha. I cannot seem to be able to enjoy taking architectural photography. It’s like taking pictures of photographs done by others. It’s art by other people that I’ve never made my own. I do enjoy certain types of architectural photography, maybe long-exposures with crazy cloud-shapes, maybe certain angles that want to signify symmetry or what have you. On Instagram you get lost in spiral-staircases, windows in skyscrapers and the like…. me not like. The greatness of that art is lost on me.

If on the other hand I do go out and do photography with architectural elements in it then it’s mainly for a different reason – as a payoff for sunset-photography, an element of contrast in long-exposure light-trails or as an establishing shot for exploring the architecture in more detail. The main image here is the Jenisch-Haus in Hamburg. Built between 1831 and 1834 it’s part of a rural farm overseeing the river Elbe. It’s one of the most beautiful houses in Hamburg and has a history rich in progressive thought (for that time). Today it houses a museum. 

Photographing the Jenisch-Haus and the spacious park is an ongoing project of mine. The park has a small river meandering through it and is home to many old trees. The house itself houses (see what I did there?) a museum showing bourgeois life and taste. To me it’s a glimpse into the former glory of Hamburg with some even mystic elements.  If you want, then click on the images in the gallery for getting acquainted with the park, the house and the spirit they emote.

Enjoy!